Dear Friends and Allies,
Our New Year was off to a rousing start with the publication of the New York Times editorial series, "A Woman's Rights." It brought attention to NAPW cases, clients, and framing, and helped push New York's legislators to pass the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). Below please find updates about the RHA, NAPW's staff, work, and how you can help. Please take action by signing our petition to New York State's largest hospital system, Northwell Health, and please join us at our spring event on April 15, 2019 - because there is No Going Back!
I look forward to seeing you there,
Lynn M. Paltrow
Founder and Executive Director
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
Celebrate with NAPW!
New York's Reproductive Health Act (RHA)
On January 22, 2019 - the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade - New York State passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). As a national organization, NAPW supported state-based allies in the fight for this legislation that ensures that women in New York State have all of the protections afforded by Roe v. Wade. NAPW played a vital role in advocating for this legislation highlighting the fact that all pregnant women - not just those seeking to end a pregnancy - would benefit from the RHA.
Once this law passed, however, there was significant backlash locally and nationally. In his State of the Union address, Trump referred to this law to incite his anti-abortion base. And just days after the law passed, the New York Daily News published an op-ed titled "Did N.Y. just put pregnant women at greater risk?"
Recognizing NAPW's expertise on intersectional issues, state-based New York organizations asked NAPW to respond to the commentary. We did, and our response to the false claim that criminalizing abortion somehow protects pregnant women from violence was published in the New York Daily News on February 1, 2019.
Then, less than two weeks after the RHA repealed New York's old criminal abortion law, Queens resident Jennifer Irigoyen, a pregnant woman, was stabbed and killed by her ex-boyfriend. RHA opponents seized on this brutal act as supposed proof of the law's harm. For example, a spokesman for the New York Catholic Conference tweeted, "Thanks to the #RHA, it's open season on pregnant women in New York." Once again, state policymakers and organizations called on NAPW.
NAPW responded quickly. Our commentary published in the Times Union and our widely distributed talking points make it clear that the suggestion that laws criminalizing abortion and treating fetuses as separate crime victims somehow protect pregnant women from violence is a fairy tale.
Marching for Women & Launching the Dray Birth Justice Campaign
On a freezing January morning, NAPW joined thousands of marchers in support of women. Carrying our "Knocked Up, Fight Back!" signs high and wearing our new beanies, NAPW staff and friends made sure to participate in both of the women's marches in New York City, with staff attorney Indra Wood Lusero representing NAPW at the Denver march.
With the help of NAPW's new organizer Kendall Bentsen, we launched an organizing campaign at the New York marches. This campaign demands that New York State's largest hospital system (Northwell Health) rescind any and all policies that authorize forced surgery on pregnant women. This organizing effort grows out of the Rinat Dray case in which Northwell's Staten Island University Hospital found Ms. Dray to be a competent decision maker but overruled her refusal of cesarean surgery, forced her to have this major surgery, injured her bladder in the process, and has been vigorously defending this clear violation of pregnant patients' rights for the past eight years.
Please join our campaign today by signing this petition to Northwell's Board of Directors or text NAPW to 444-999.
The New York Times Editorial Series & The Laura Flanders Show
On Friday, January 18, The Laura Flanders Show released the episode "Pregnancy to Prison Pipeline: Media Matters." This show featured NAPW executive director Lynn M. Paltrow, Janine Jackson from FAIR and Suzanne Sellers from Families Organizing for Child Welfare Justice.
Host Laura Flanders introduced this episode by saying, "As the president sounds off about holy babies born and unborn, we talk about the ongoing criminalization of women who happen to get pregnant. What has been the media's role and have they done enough to make amends?" The expert guests discussed the groundbreaking New York Times 8-part editorial series "A Woman's Rights" and what its impact might be on future coverage of issues concerning pregnant women and false claims regarding pregnancy and drug use.
Please click here to view the segment.
Speaking Out & Fighting for All Pregnant Women!
At the beginning of the new year, NAPW staff attorney Indra Wood Lusero was featured in the ABA Journal for their work on birth justice. Then on January 18, Mx. Lusero brilliantly represented NAPW at the National Press Club as part of a panel launching Reproaction's "Stop Prosecuting Abortion" campaign. CSPAN covered the press conference and you can watch Indra here.
Senior staff attorney Amber Khan has been working locally and globally. For example, she has been advising New York State-based allies to ensure that the proposed legislation to legalize marijuana does not leave pregnant women and parents vulnerable to counterproductive child welfare interventions based on marijuana use. At the same time, she has been working with allies to write and submit reports to United Nations' working groups, committees, and commissions. These reports document how the US government mistreats pregnant women and reinforce the human rights principles that should be protecting all pregnant people in the US and around the world.
And highlighting just one small part of their work, director of legal advocacy, Nancy Rosenbloom and senior staff attorney Aarin M. Williams went to Alabama this week to meet with community activists and to provide legal training to local public defenders. This is part of our ongoing efforts to challenge the arrests and prosecution of hundreds of pregnant women in Alabama based on state law, including a recent amendment to the state constitution recognizing separate rights for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses.
NAPW needs your support to continue bringing attention to, defending, and advocating for the growing number of pregnant women threatened with arrest and other forms of government control and surveillance.